This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some MediaWiki.org users, but may not have wide support. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.
The Foundation is currently working on features designed to bring more people into our communities. What will all of these new residents need in order to find their place, and what does the existing community need, to deal with this influx of new strangers? The population of English Wikipedia has famously dropped since hitting a peak ten years ago, going from a high of around 28,000 active editors in 2007 down to about 15,000 by 2013. Because this figure has remained more or less consistent since then, it may suggest the number of people the current structure of the site can support. But if the goal is to grow the active population of Wikipedia by attracting and assimilating a large number of new strangers, then a new conceptual model is required- this paper posits a model based on urban planning theory, conceptualizing each contributor community as if it were a city. Such a model would require tools and support to help established residents and newcomers be more visible to one another, and interact. That is, each community must be reconsidered in terms of scale - like a city is organized by neighborhood - in order to ensure that newcomers land in a place they can identify with, among others with similar interests and motivations. Such a model would ensure greater cohesion within contributor communities, transfer of knowledge between related contributor communities, and the opportunity for more visibility and awareness of the activities of others (both in terms of recognizing positive contributions and policing negative behavior). This new model begins to suggest role structures that are more flexible and nuanced (official, ceremonial, interest-based, activity-based, time-based etc.).
Jane Jacobs, 1961 The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Random House
William H. Whyte, 1988, City: Rediscovering the Center, University of Pennsylvania Press
A. Kittur, B.Pendleton and R. E. Kraut, 2009, Herding the Cats: The Influence of Groups In Coordinating Peer Production" [pdf]
H. Ung and J-M. Dalle, 2010, Project Management in the Wikipedia Community [pdf]
J. T. Morgan, M. Gilbert, D. W. McDonald and M. Zachry, 2013 Project talk: Coordination work and group membership in WikiProjects, [pdf]
J. Solomon and R. Wash, 2014, Critical Mass of What? Exploring Community Growth in WikiProjects [pdf]
- Mobile editing tools, more onboarding features, and an easier-to-use communication system.
- The estimates of active editor participation comes from stats.wikimedia, using 25+ edits/mo as the definition of "active".